Padma is one of 10 children in her family. With so many to look after, it was impossible for her parents to pay for all of them to attend a Government School. As a girl, Padma’s prospects looked even dimmer. In Pakistan, there are many cultural traditions that marginalize women. From honor killings to forced marriages to having no voice in the villages- women are taught that they are not worth much.
However, when PEP built a Village LEAP school in Padma’s area,something sparked inside her. Though her parents were illiterate and worked as field hands, because the school fees were so low (about $1 a month) Padma able to attend! She completed Primary School and went on to attend Secondary and High School. She even ranked 1st in her class in the 7th grade!
She then used the confidence, knowledge, and skills that education had given her to be a change agent in her community. She helped start a Women’s Savings Group and a Citizen Community Board that accesses government support for projects like clean water and electricity. Through the Board they also managed to get funding for a building to be used for women’s meetings so their Women’s Savings Group could train women from other villages!
In 2008, Padma began the process of becoming a PEP teacher and was enrolled in the ITEP curriculum. She now not only teaches, but also holds workshops for other local teachers and trains them in creative and effective teaching methods.
What a blessing that a girl who grew up without much hope for a future would learn to burn her candle brightly and light the way for so many other girls!
Padma, second from left, at a Citizen Community Board Meeting.